Dawn Day is a sexual assault nurse examiner or SANE nurse and the sexual assault program coordinator at the Mercy hospital in Springfield.
She spoke about the stress it can put on nurses to take care of patients who are victims of sexual assault, and a little bit about how she and others deal with those stressors.
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Dawn Day: It's difficult. You have to be able to look within yourself and know that you need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others.
You have to have a good support system at home, and you have to have outlets and hobbies and resources away from work.
I used to make work my life. That made it - the stress -much harder. I try to separate work and life. Work life and home life, now.
The home life helps me get through the stresses of the work life, and whatever that home life for any one of the nurses are. Whether they're going home to a boyfriend or going home to children or going home to just their girlfriends and going out of the weekend. Whatever that is, go and do your thing and have that release.
It is very difficult though. I have a lot of nurses that quit because of the stresses that it puts on them.
A lot of people get into it because they have their own personal stories of possible assault in their life, or I had a nurse that her daughter was sexually assaulted, and she wanted to do it because of that reason.
And they get into it, and they think "I want to get into that. Let's make a change," and it's too rough on them. It's too hard on them. It brings back too much.
A lot of nurses, it's too stressful. They don't like hearing the stories. They don't like knowing that that is happening to someone. They don't want to put themselves into that.
Whether it's their own personal struggles that they're dealing with - with history in their lives or just taking home the history of the patients, there's a lot of nurses that they don't want to do it and can't do it and drop out.
And, respectfully, I say, "Okay."
We used to have a protocol of: What is it take to be a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse? Like how do you become a SANE nurse?
There used to be a lot of black and white rules down on paper at our facility of - well, you have to have two years ER experience before you can do it or you have to have this or you have to have that.
We have gone away with all of that. We have said, "If you were a registered nurse, and you want to be a SANE nurse, you can be a SANE nurse."
Because the number one component that you have to have to be a sexual assault nurse examiner, is you have to have care and compassion and want to do it.
If you don't... I cannot train care and compassion. If you have the care compassion, and you want to do that, by all means, I will put you through the training and I will train you to do it.
So, you do not have to have a certain amount of experience. We like to have that certain amount of experience because it does take a lot of critical thinking skills, but I have some new grads that are like, "No. No. This is why I want to go to school. I want to do this. I've wanted to do this. Please let me take care of these patients."
And I will put them through the training, and I will train them, and I will let them take care of these patients.